A Fourth Grade History Lesson in four chapters by Charles Johnson

Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22, @ charliesixty.wordpress.com

To appear in full version in Hometown Focus, Virginia, MN on Nov. 22, 2013


Chapter 4: Going Home

The phone rang again in the teachers’ lounge.  Paul looked down the hall just in time to see Mr. Clawmer head into the teachers’ lounge to answer.  There was a nervous air throughout the school now, especially up here on the second floor where the older kids were located.  They had a better grasp of what had happened a whole lot better than the younger kids on the first floor.   In just a few moments, Mr.Clawmer emerged and headed right to Mr.Pacetti’s room, closing the door to the lounge behind him.

Mr. Clawmer beckoned for the two men to join him in the hallway.  The three stood there, whispering softly just long enough to learn the situation.  Paul shook the hands of both men, picked up his broom and headed downstairs to tell the classes below what he had just learned, and to tell Mrs. Hildy.  Mr. Clawmer walked over to Mrs. Prickett’s room as Mr. Pacetti reentered his room to deliver some news.

“Kids”, he began, “Mr. Clawmer just told me that due to the news about our president, you will be dismissed at 2 o’clock.  That gives us just a few minutes for you to get what you need to take home and to get on boots and jackets.  We will follow our regular plan to end the day – we’ll just do it earlier than we usually do.”

Under normal circumstances, there would have been cheers and hoots at such an announcement.  This time, though, the kids sensed that such a demonstration would have been out of place.  Hands shot up, ready to ask about bus rides or walking home with brothers and sisters.  He continued, calmly anticipating such questions.

“All the classes will be leaving together, so if you walk with someone, they’ll be there for you.  For those who ride the bus, it will be here in a bit.  Those of you in the row by the window are first to get your coats from the cloakroom.”

The kids fell into the routine.  Each row took their turn at gathering their materials and putting on their early winter clothing.  They lined up at the door, waiting for Mr. P to escort them down the stairs.  They could hear other classes preparing in much the same way.  At two o’clock, Mr. Clawmer’s class left the room and headed for the stairs.  Behind them came Mrs.Prickett’s class.  By the time the last fifth grader went down the stairs, Mr.Pacetti and the fourth graders filed out of the room.

As Mr. P’s class reached the door, students were already dispersing out the gate.  Paul came up the stairs from the basement, Mrs. Hildy at his side.  She was ready to leave – she carried her purse and gloves and would wait to give her grandkids a ride home – Dicky, Janie in sixth grade, and Sharon in second grade.  The two girls had already joined her; Dicky dropped out of line as Mrs.Hildy waved him over.  Paul’s daughter Kay stood with him – she’d go home with him when he was done for the day.

Those few who were waiting for the bus lined up at the fence.  The rest exited the front gate, headed for their homes.  Mr. P said a goodbye to each of his students, most stopping to give him a hug as they left.  He watched Toni and Carl LaValle, the other twins in his class, turn left and head to the second house down the road.  He watched Junie Marsh cross the street and go into her house.  He wondered how each of them would deal with today’s event; not only now, but later as well, when they were in the adult years.

There was a tug at Mr. P’s pants leg.  He looked down to see his last student in line gazing up at him with a concerned look.  The kids had nicknamed him “Gitzy” because his last name was so long and hard to say.  Gitzy was all set to leave – except for one thing.

“Can you help me with my mittens, Mr. P?”  He held up his mittens.

Mr. P smiled and started sliding on the mittens as Gitzy held out his hands, good and straight so that Mr. P could slide them on easily.

“Thanks, Mr. P… and you know what, Mr. P?  I bet things aren’t going to be as regular as they used to be.”  Gitzy turned and stepped down the stairs where his sisters waited, ready for the short walk home up the hill to the north.

Paul sidled over to Mr. Pacetti.  He had heard what Gitzy said.  He looked Mr. P in the eyes grimly.  They turned and walked up the stairs together.

“You know, John, I bet Gitzy has little idea how right he is.”



Thanks to classmates Deb and Del S. for sharing memories of this day, and to Suz W. for help in editing.  The entire story appears in the HOMETOWN FOCUS at http://www.hometownfocus.us/news/2013-11-22/Range_History/From_Dallas_Texas_The_Flash_Apparently_Official_.html